NFL Owners May Be Overvaluing Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is under pressure to resign for his handling of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who knocked out his then-fiancee in a casino elevator in March.Rice was initially suspended for two games, in line with the NFL’s history of issuing shorter suspensions for domestic violence than for many other types of personal conduct violations — even though rates of domestic violence arrests are high among NFL players as compared with other crimes. Goodell announced changes to the league’s policy in August, introducing six-week suspensions for first-time domestic violence offenses and lifetime bans for repeat offenders. But the new policies were not applied retroactively to players like Rice.Goodell came under renewed criticism this week after additional video of the casino incident was published by TMZ; it shows Janay Rice collapsing after the running back punched her. Ray Rice has since been released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, but a number of reports have called into question Goodell’s claim that he had not seen the longer video at the time he decided on Rice’s initial two-game suspension.Other reports imply that Goodell has the support of most of the league’s 32 franchises — in large part because of the NFL’s financial success. As Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote:Goodell has so much goodwill in the bank in [the owners’] eyes that there’s no way—without definitive proof that the commissioner lied—they’d throw him, and his $44 million annual compensation, to the wolves. The goodwill includes a collective bargaining agreement with the players association through 2020 and lucrative TV contracts that pay each team about $150 million per year.Indeed, the NFL is probably the most valuable sports league in the world. According to Forbes’s annual Business of Football valuations, its 32 franchises are worth a collective $45 billion. That’s nearly double that of Major League Baseball franchises, worth a collective $24 billion, and NBA franchises, worth $19 billion. (What about European soccer? The average NFL team is worth $1.4 billion dollars — more than all but four or five club teams in Europe.)The NFL wasn’t always quite so dominant, especially relative to baseball. In 1991, when Financial World magazine issued valuations for the four major North American sports leagues (see Rodney Fort’s website for archived data), NFL franchises were worth an aggregate $6.5 billion (adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars), not much more than the $5.5 billion for MLB teams. But NFL franchises have appreciated at an annual rate of 8.8 percent since then, compared to baseball’s 6.7 percent.The bulk of that growth, however, occurred under Goodell’s predecessor, Paul Tagliabue. Since Goodell took over as commissioner in 2006, NFL franchises have risen in value by 32 percent, net of inflation, according to Forbes. That’s the lowest of the North American leagues by some margin. NHL franchises have increased in value by 114 percent, MLB franchises by 82 percent and NBA franchises by 65 percent over the same period (and Forbes is probably undervaluing the NBA, given recent franchise sale prices).Broken down in terms of annual growth rates: NFL franchise values grew at an annualized rate of 11.7 percent from 1991 to 2006 under Tagliabue and just 3.5 percent per year since 2006 under Goodell.The Forbes estimates aren’t perfect. All NFL franchises but the Green Bay Packers are privately held, and the league has very low rates of franchise turnover, with many teams having remained in the hands of the same family for decades. But the prices of recent franchise sales, like those of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, have closely matched the Forbes valuations.The modest rate of franchise value growth under Goodell has come from a very high baseline — and perhaps some decline in the rate of growth was inevitable given how prodigiously they grew under Tagliabue. In absolute dollar terms — not percentages — NFL franchise values have risen by a collective $10.9 billion since 2006, compared with $11 billion for baseball, $7.5 billion for the NBA and $6.6 billion for the NHL. The NFL is still a hugely profitable business, and even poorly run franchises tend to make money because of the league’s aggressive revenue sharing and relatively favorable contractual agreements with players. According to Forbes, only the Detroit Lions lost money in 2013, and the league’s 32 franchises earned a collective $1.7 billion in operating income.At the same time, the NFL did such a good job of expanding its reach and protecting its brand under Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle that even a mediocre commissioner could be in a position to look good. Compared to his predecessors and his counterparts in other leagues, Goodell’s value to the NFL’s bottom line hasn’t been quite so clear. read more

FiveThirtyEights College Football Playoff Forecast

Which teams are most likely to make college football’s first-ever four-team playoff? And which have the best chance of coming away with the national title?The quick answer is the obvious one: The Alabama Crimson Tide lead the way on both counts. They’re No. 1 in the playoff selection committee’s current rankings and No. 1 according to most computer systems, including ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Alabama is no stranger to postseason success, having won the national title in 2009, 2011 and 2012.But it won’t be easy for Alabama, or anyone else. To win the national title, the Crimson Tide may need to prevail in four very challenging football games — against arch-rival Auburn on Nov. 29, in the SEC Championship on Dec. 6, and then in the national semifinal and championship games. Alabama is more likely than any other team to win the title, but its chances are still only about 28 percent.That number comes from a new model we’ve developed that simulates the rest of the college football season and considers how subsequent games might affect the playoff committee’s rankings. The model is speculative: Statistical models are grounded in history and there’s zero history to go by when it comes to the college football playoff. But we hope to have some fun with it over the next few weeks and use this season as a guide for how to improve it in future years.The key characteristics of the model are that it’s iterative and probabilistic.1In contrast to our usual 10,000-word manifesto when launching a new forecasting model, I’m only going to provide a brief description of it for now. We’ll circle back later on with more detail. By iterative, I mean that it simulates the rest of the college season one game and one week at a time instead of jumping directly from the current playoff committee standings to national championship chances. By probabilistic, I mean that it hopes to account for the considerable uncertainty in the playoff picture, both in terms of how the games will turn out and in how the humans on the selection committee might react to them.Games are simulated using ESPN’s Football Power Index. To take one example, FPI has USC with about a 40 percent chance of upsetting UCLA in the game they’ll play Saturday in Pasadena, California.The next question is how the teams’ standings in the playoff rankings might change given the possible outcomes on the field. We’ve principally used the historic record of the Coaches Poll for guidance. The simulations account for the fact that some wins and losses matter more than others.Let’s say that USC wins. It’s currently ranked No. 19 in the playoff committee’s rankings. On average in the Coaches Poll, teams ranked in that position have moved up to only No. 17 or No. 16 after a win.Our model sees more upside potential for USC, however. A victory for the Trojans would come in what is technically a road game for them (a few freeways away from their campus in Los Angeles). More importantly, it would come against a higher-ranked opponent in UCLA. Historically — and quite reasonably — human raters have given more credit to wins like those, so our simulation would have USC moving up to No. 15 or No. 14 on average if it wins instead. But there’s considerable uncertainty in the outcome. We have USC moving as high as No. 10, or even into the high single digits, in some simulations; in other cases, a number of other teams ranked near it in the standings might have impressive wins also, and USC would barely move up at all.The simulations also account for the potential margin of victory in each game. Voters in the coaches and media polls have mostly looked at wins and losses, but our research suggests they give a little bit more credit to especially lopsided victories or especially close ones.USC, although an interesting case for the model, is almost no threat to win the national championship no matter the scoreline in Pasadena. Even if it beats UCLA this week and Notre Dame next week — and wins the tiebreaker for the Pac-12 title and then wins that game against Oregon as well, it will be coming from too far behind. Our simulation gives the Trojans only a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoff.Other teams have a more credible chance of contending. Take Mississippi State. On the positive side for the Bulldogs, four teams will get into the playoff and they’re currently ranked No. 4. But Mississippi State has more downside than upside scenarios. It will almost certainly be out if it loses against No. 8 Mississippi — a game in which FPI has the Rebels favored. And even if Mississippi State wins that game, it won’t advance to the SEC Championship unless Alabama loses to Auburn. If Alabama wins, the Bulldogs would be denied another chance to impress the committee. Thus, our simulation has Mississippi State with just a 27 percent chance of making the playoff.These permutations can get complicated, which is why it helps to take things one week at a time. What might the playoff committee standings look like after this Saturday’s games, for instance? The heat map you see below reflects our model’s effort to account for all the possibilities:The top four probably won’t look much different when the playoff committee releases its new standings on Tuesday. They all have fairly easy marks: Alabama will play a Division I-AA opponent, Western Carolina. No. 2 Oregon is at home against 2-8 Colorado. No. 3 Florida State is heavily favored at home against Boston College. And Mississippi State is also at home, playing Vanderbilt, the worst team in the SEC.There’s more action outside the top four. I already mentioned the high-leverage game in Pasadena. If you look carefully at the chart, you’ll see that USC’s probability distribution is bimodal. In other words, it probably won’t stay at No. 19, where it is now. If it beats UCLA, it could gain several positions in the rankings; if it loses, it will have taken its fourth loss and might be knocked out of the top 25 entirely.USC’s opponent, UCLA, also has a lot on the line. UCLA would need a lot of help, but it still has an outside chance — our model puts it at 8 percent — of making the playoff. Beating both USC and Stanford would give UCLA an entry into the Pac-12 championship game. If it beat Oregon then, and a team or two ahead of it endures a loss, it could get in.We might compare the Trojans against their Hellenic-themed rivals, the Michigan State Spartans. Not that MSU, already having lost twice, had much chance to begin with (it pains me to say that as an East Lansing High School alum). But the Spartans are a good example of a team that just doesn’t have enough opportunities to impress committee voters even under its best-case outcomes. MSU’s only remaining scheduled games are against unranked Rutgers and Penn State — and it will only make the Big Ten Championship game if it wins twice and Ohio State loses twice.The Georgia Bulldogs, by comparison, despite being just one position ahead of Michigan State in the rankings, have a better hand to play. They’ll make the SEC Championship if Missouri loses either of its remaining games. If Georgia makes the conference title game and beats Alabama, it would give committee members a lot to think about.Here’s how our model sees the potential lay of the land on Dec. 7, when the selection committee will release its final rankings:As you can see, playing out three weeks’ worth of games increases the uncertainty a great deal as compared to just this coming weekend’s outcomes. No team is more than 75 percent certain to make the playoff.Florida State, despite being undefeated and No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, is not all that well positioned. The selection committee has it at No. 3, which implies that a loss would probably knock it out of contention. FPI, along with other computer systems, is not high on the Seminoles, who have won by middling margins against a so-so schedule.Oregon’s position is better. The Ducks will probably have to win out also, but they’ve already survived the tougher parts of their schedule. Oregon has been good enough, in fact, to make duck-hunting an appealing proposition; UCLA’s outside shot of making the playoff relies upon the possibility of beating it in the Pac-12 Championship.Our simulation also accounts for what might happen beyond Dec. 7. Here are the teams most likely to win the national championship, according to our model:A few teams might be overlooked in the title hunt. Although none of its teams ranks in the top four now, the Big 12 is more likely than not to advance one team (TCU or Baylor) into the playoff. Ohio State’s position as a potential one-loss winner of a major conference will start to look better if any teams ahead of it slip. Ole Miss is a longshot to make the playoff — it will have to beat Mississippi State and perhaps hope that Alabama loses also so that it can get into the SEC Championship — but it’s at the top of the pecking order as far as two-loss teams go.There’s still a lot that these simulations aren’t accounting for. There’s no mechanism in the model to account for head-to-head results even though the committee has said it will consider them if the standings are otherwise close. That potentially works to the benefit of Alabama, which might finish close to Mississippi State in the standings if it loses to Auburn or in the SEC Championship, but which beat the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa last week.The selection committee may also place more emphasis on conference championships than the simulations do. But we have no evidence yet for how that might play out — nor for how resistant the committee might be to choosing two or more teams from the same conference. We hope you’ll join us as we sort through the scenarios.CORRECTION (Nov. 22, 3:20 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the division in which Western Carolina plays. It is not Division II, but the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA. read more

5 things to watch for between Ohio State and Penn State

Then-redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) runs with the ball against Penn State during the Buckeyes’ 31-24 victory over the Nittany Lions on Oct. 25. Credit: Lantern file photoNo. 1 Ohio State looks to continue its winning ways on Saturday at 8 p.m., as the Buckeyes are set to face off against Penn State at Ohio Stadium. The Lantern’s sports editors Ryan Cooper and Kevin Stankiewicz sling out five things they will be watching for throughout the game.Bosa vs. NassibOffensive lines will have their hands full on Saturday, as two of college football’s premier defensive ends will be suiting up opposite them: OSU’s Joey Bosa and Penn State’s Carl Nassib. Although his numbers might not jump off the page, Bosa is returning to the dominance he displayed in 2014. Last week against Maryland, the junior was constantly in the backfield, as he recorded four quarterback hurries and his first solo sack of the year.Bosa, who recorded a sack on the game’s final play against Penn State in 2014, said he sees a player on film that is “night and day” different than as a sophomore.For Nassib, his name is less familiar with the fans, but opposing quarterbacks know it well. The true senior, and former walk-on, has a nation-leading 10 sacks — all solo — and five forced fumbles through six games.The 6-foot-7 West Chester, Pennsylvania, native, saw the field in a reserve capacity last season, but he has solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with in his first six starts.Expect both Bosa and Nassib to be in the opposing backfields often and put pressure on the offensive lines all game long.Repeat performance in the red zone?Last week, the Buckeyes appeared to have located the cure for their woes in the red zone by inserting J.T. Barrett at quarterback when the team got near the 20-yard line. The redshirt sophomore guided OSU across the goal line on all five of the possessions he was used as a red zone quarterback.OSU coach Urban Meyer said during the week that he thinks Barrett will continue to be used in this capacity — as long as it proceeds to produce points.Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the stat sheet indicates they should be able to have similar success against Penn State as they did versus Maryland.The Nittany Lions have impeded opposing offenses with much success in 2015, as they rank 10th in the nation for total defense.However, when the opposition is able make its way into the red zone against Penn State, the Nittany Lions have struggled to stop it from scoring. Through six games, Penn State’s opponents are scoring 91 percent of the time it gets in the red zone, which is 106th in the nation.Meyer made it sound like as long as Barrett engineers trips into the end zone, he will continue to use the red zone package. Saturday’s matchup appears to be another good chance for Barrett to build off last week’s success with finding the end zone.Does Braxton solidify himself as a playmaker?Redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller had a huge day in the season opener, with 140 all-purpose yards and two scores. But after that, he was seemingly absent for the next four games. Against Maryland last week, however, Miller reemerged. The quarterback-turner-receiver had five catches for 79 yards— along with three rushes for 11 yards — and one touchdown. It was his first trip to the end zone since the opener.Meyer said this week that Miller got the targeted amount of touches against the Terrapins and that he continues to deserve the football.But after disappearing for a few weeks following the Virginia Tech game, there is reason to wonder if Miller can routinely have explosive performances or if they will come and go.Against the stout Nittany Lions defense, the Buckeyes will need all of their playmakers to get separation and make guys miss once they get the football.Whether Miller, who said this week he fully feels like a receiver now, makes his presence felt could have a big impact on if the Buckeyes’ offense builds its momentum from last week.OSU’s secondary vs. a pocket passerOSU’s secondary has been one of the best in the nation this season, allowing just 147.5 passing yards per game, which is the ninth fewest in the country.Big passing plays have been few and far in between, quarterbacks have been uncomfortable in the pocket and have had little time to work before the pass rush closes in.Yet the Buckeyes have not done as good of a job of stopping opposing quarterbacks as they could have this season because of the damage the mobile quarterbacks opposite them have done on the ground.In the last two weeks, OSU gave up runs of 75 and 79 yards to Maryland’s Perry Hills and Indiana’s Zander Diamont, respectively, as each of the fleet-footed quarterbacks picked up more yards running than throwing.Against Penn State, it is not likely OSU will deal with the same problem. Penn State junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg, as his positive runs through six games have only picked up 74 yards, including a long run of 22 yards.In OSU’s six games, it has only faced one quarterback characterized as a pocket passer: Hawaii’s Max Wittek.Wittek had one of the worst games of his life without the threat of running the ball, completing just seven of 24 passes for 67 yards and two interceptions. He did rattle off a 17-yard run, but still finished with a negative rushing total thanks to four sacks.OSU’s secondary can be death on pocket quarterbacks, and Hackenberg is just that. It could be a long night for the junior trying to find openings downfield.Offensive line penaltiesA recurring theme that Meyer has been displeased with this season has been the number of penalties the team has committed.Against Maryland, that area improved with just six penalties overall — but four were on the offensive line.Three false starts and a holding penalty did no favors to the offense. Though the offensive line has improved immensely throughout the season with regards to creating holes for running back Ezekiel Elliott to burst through and creating protection for the quarterbacks, discipline might still be an area of concern.Given how rapidly Meyer has attacked previous areas of concern — such as turnovers and red zone struggles — it would be surprising to see him allow a deficiency like that continue for another week, especially when the number of major issues on the team to be preoccupied with is dwindling by the week. read more

Columbus Crew shuts out FC Dallas 20

Dallas, having twice bitten on the man with the ball before it dumped off for a shot, did not contest Gaven, who had a clear line of sight toward the net. Columbus’ only goals were a penalty shot against DC United two weeks prior and a goal by Andres Mendoza against Real Salt Lake on March 1. The main problem was how to score more with Kevin Hartman, who is the all-time leader in games played in goal, games started in goal, minutes played in goal, wins, losses, saves and shutouts, guarding the net for Dallas. It was Dallas, however, who almost converted an early opportunity when forward Fabian Castillo’s point-blank shot went wide left. Columbus answered with a free kick that forward Emmanuel Ekpo headed over the goal. Dallas went to its reserves in the 79th minute, as defender Zach Loyd and forward Milton Rodriguez were sent in for midfielders Castillo and Marvin Chavez. Columbus scored its first home goal of the season after tying the New York Red Bulls last week at Crew Stadium. Later, in the 29th minute, Dallas forward Ruben Luna got his head on a David Ferreira cross that Columbus goalie William Hesmer quickly saved. Columbus almost put the nail in Dallas’ coffin when Dilly Duka, an 85th-minute substitution for Ekpo, took the ball on the left side, drawing the defense before dumping it off to Duka in the middle, who shot it wide right. Stoppage time would finally bring the insurance goal, as Gaven dribbled the ball right before cutting it inside where his left foot put a screamer into the back of the net. Dallas almost tied in the 81st minute when Loyd passed a high ball to forward Rodriguez, whose header Hesmer read and stopped. Columbus continued to challenge at the 36-minute mark, as a Crew corner kick by Eddie Gaven was flicked by Chad Marshall to midfielder Dejan Rusmir before being cleared by Dallas. The game would only become more difficult for Dallas when midfielder Jackson Goncalves was ejected after acquiring two yellow cards in three minutes. A Columbus substitution five minutes later would put Jeff Cunningham in for Mendoza. For Cunningham, it was a chance to play against his former team. “We had a good control of the match, so it was a great opportunity to introduce me into the game,” Cunningham said. Columbus would put the first point on the board in the 55th minute, when Dallas’ George John committed a penalty in the box, which resulted in a Mendoza penalty shot. Hartman would guess the correct direction only to see the ball slip under his fingertips. The Columbus Crew defeated defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas, 2-0, on Friday. “We tried to put a little bit more pressure on the defenders, especially on the crosses,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said of his team’s change in game plan after gaining a man advantage. The Crew next takes on Chivas USA on April 9. read more

Ohio State cross country teams finish in back of pack at Wisconsin

Heading into the Big Ten Championships, the Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams might be on opposite paths. Experience could have been a telling factor in Wisconsin Friday as the squads experienced different results in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. The two teams traveled to Madison, Wis., to compete against some of the best teams in the country, and while the women’s squad met the majority of their goals, the men’s group fell short of what they wanted to accomplish. While the women’s team finished 33rd overall, coach Khadevis Robinson had set a number of goals going into the competition and the team achieved most of them. He wanted more personal best times and, “almost everyone ran a personal best,” said junior runner Meredith Wagner. Wagner set a new personal record and led the team with a time of 20:35. Robinson also wanted to beat some Big Ten schools, and his squad finished ahead of Iowa, Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska. “We set some tough but realistic goals, and I believe I personally accomplished my goal (of a new personal best time) and the team did well as a whole too,” said freshman runner Lexi Aughenbaugh. While the OSU women only finished sixth out of the 10 conference schools at the meet, the outlook for the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 28 is positive. “We should have two more girls run in the 20’s, under 21 minutes, and that should change the landscape a little bit,” Robinson said. If that were to happen, it would give the OSU women’s team four runners under the 21 minute mark. That would bring them very close to the two top-finishing Big Ten teams at the Wisconsin Invitational. Penn State and Michigan State both had team averages of about 20:41 and were the only Big Ten schools to record four or more sub-21 minute times. If Robinson’s prediction is correct, it could potentially put the Buckeyes in excellent position to compete for a top spot come tournament time. The men’s team did not fare as well in Wisconsin, finishing 39th out of 45 teams and falling short of their goal of a top 20 finish. Prior to the event, men’s associate head coach Brice Allen said he knew inexperience could potentially play a role in his team’s performance. “We’ve got a very young squad that we’re taking into this meet,” Allen said. Their inexperience showed in an important statistic, the difference in time between the first runner and the fifth. “You want to be as close together as possible. That’s the key,” Robinson said. The OSU men’s team had the fourth longest time between their scoring runners among the 45 teams in Madison. Two of the three teams with longer spreads finished behind the Buckeyes. The only team that finished ahead of OSU with a worse differential was Arizona. The Wildcats, though, had the two fastest overall runners in the tournament in sophomore Lawi Lalang and senior Stephen Sambu. While the men’s team did not meet their goal of finishing in the top 20, they were the only team in the tournament that had freshmen finish in four of their five scoring positions. read more

Columbus Crew picks up former Ohio State mens soccer star Konrad Warzycha

Columbus Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers stepped into team manager Robert Warzycha’s office shortly after the team had announced its final round of preseason personnel moves, which included contracts offered to three young players, one of which was Warzycha’s son, Konrad. Konrad Warzycha’s inclusion in the 2013 Crew roster was, in effect, a homecoming for the Dublin, Ohio, native. After attending Dublin Jerome High School, Konrad came to Ohio State, where he was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes’ men’s soccer team. McCullers’ visit with Robert Warzycha was the first after the team made the news of signing the coach’s son public. “I asked him how his wife was,” McCullers said. “She must be very proud and very happy.” Robert Warzycha’s demeanor both on and off the field could be described as stoic, even detached. That’s not it, though – the word his son and McCullers used to describe Robert Warzycha is “professional,” and the approach didn’t change after he signed his son. Was Robert Warzycha happy to have his son on his team? Is his wife proud? McCullers didn’t learn much from Warzycha’s response. “(Robert) said, ‘Yeah, I think she is.’ That’s really about the extent of it,” McCullers said with a hearty laugh. There was a tender moment in the process, according to Konrad Warzycha, who, along with several other teammates, was approached by Robert Warzycha after a team lift during preseason camp in Orlando, Fla., and invited to his hotel room for private discussions. “When we got back I went into his room and he kinda laid down the contract on the table. From there, I just got a big smile and he said, ‘Congratulations,’” Konrad Warzycha said. Terms of Konrad Warzycha’s contract, including its length, have not been disclosed, but with the Warzycha father-son duo united under the shield of the Black and Gold, it is clear that both men understand what is expected of them now and in the future when, inevitably, an uncomfortable conversation will take place. Konrad Warzycha, who spent the last two seasons with Sporting Kansas City, said there was no preferential treatment given to him at any point in the process. “At the beginning (of camp), that’s what I was working toward (a contract) and that was made clear, and up to that point where the signing happened, it could have gone either way,” he said. “I was kind of left in the dark until my last couple days in Orlando.” An uncomfortable conversation was avoided right out of the chute thanks to Konrad Warzycha’s play in preseason camp. He saw about 120 minutes of game action in three preseason games during which McCullers said that the player was “noticeable.” “It’s tough being the coach’s son because you probably have to hold yourself to a higher standard to get a contract to ensure that nobody’s going to question the motives behind it,” McCullers said. “Konrad, without question, earned this opportunity … The good news is that Konrad made it easy. He made it so that there was no question.” Robert Warzycha was not made available for interviews. Just as McCullers spoke to the professional approach of both Warzychas, Konard Warzycha said he and his father will handle whatever comes their way for as long as they are part of the same organization. “Obviously, we’ve talked about it a little bit … We’re both professionals. I don’t feel weird about (it). He doesn’t feel weird about it,” Konrad Warzycha said. The Crew opened the 2013 season Saturday with a 3-0 win against Chivas USA. Konrad Warzycha did not see action in the game. Columbus’ next contest is set for March 9 at 7:30 p.m. against the Vancouver Whitecaps. read more

For Ohio State mens tennis all roads run through Illinois

The Ohio State men’s tennis team will look to avenge its most recent Big Ten loss as it prepares to take on rival Illinois later this week. The No. 5 Buckeyes (24-2, 7-0) have not lost a conference match since April 29, 2012, when the team came up short against Illinois (12-8, 5-2), 4-3, in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament championship match in Evanston, Ill. Having secured a 7-0 shutout victory against the Illini earlier in the regular season, many felt the regular season conference champion Buckeyes were robbed of their seventh-consecutive tournament crown. Reflecting on the loss, OSU coach Ty Tucker said that he remembers players’ attitudes to have been the major contributing factor. “I remember the attitudes not being there. It (was) a windy, cold day, the ball’s not going through the air fast, we’d beat (Illinois) pretty badly earlier on (in Columbus) in the regular season … then we got (to Evanston), and it’s probably a 48, 49 degree day … and we got outfought. When they were fighting us hard and standing up to us, we looked to not have a good attitude,” Tucker said. Tucker said many of his top performers, such as junior Blaz Rola and senior Connor Smith, lost close matches against Illinois and exhibited “frustrated” behaviors and “deer in the headlights” looks. Rola said the tournament loss to the Illini was one of the program’s hardest losses during his time at OSU. “For the last three years I’ve been here, the final against Illinois was not only the toughest match to lose, but we weren’t even close to our standards. I think that hurt us the most,” he said. The opportunity to avenge last season’s upset loss is what has fueled the Scarlet and Gray squad for much of the 2013 campaign. “We are really, really motivated. I heard guys (on the team) talking about it through the whole year, and we are really excited to play (Illinois),” Rola said. Redshirt junior Peter Kobelt said he is certain OSU will not underestimate its conference rival when they face off this Friday. “After what happened last year, there will be no (underestimating) happening. We’re going to take them just as seriously as we would take any other Big Ten team,” Kobelt said. “(Illinois) plays well at home, they bring out great crowds, and they really rally off each other, so we’ll be ready to go.” Even with the Buckeyes’ increased focus and motivation toward the Illinois rematch, Tucker and his squad still anticipate a close, hard-fought match. OSU sits atop the Big Ten standings, with the Illini slotted in third place. “In the 16 years I’ve been here as an assistant coach and head coach, Illinois has set the standard. Illinois won a national title, Illinois was the last one to beat us at home, Illinois was the last one to beat us in the Big Ten. All roads always go through Illinois, and it doesn’t matter – it’s like an Ohio State-Michigan football game,” he said. Tucker also mentioned that Illinois’ coach, Brad Dancer, is someone he played tennis against growing up and has known for about 30 years. Tucker said if Friday’s match at Illinois is played outside, the weather could play a factor into the outcome and flow of play. The weather is expected to be cloudy in Champaign, Ill., with a high temperature of 48 degrees and 20 mph winds, according to weather.com. “If you play tennis in the Big Ten and you play outside, the ball is going to blow around and the conditions are going to be tough to beat, and it’s not going to be clean tennis,” Tucker said. All else set aside, players’ mentality will be the deciding factor as to who comes out on top, Tucker said. “We just hope that (for) these guys, the motivation will be there from what happened in the Big Ten finals last year, and they’ll understand that Illinois is going to fight. No matter what happens – playing great or playing bad – that you can’t lose the level of intensity or fight.” OSU’s match against Illinois is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Friday in Champaign, Ill. read more

Ohio State mens basketball to host Marquette after brutal 2013 win

OSU redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams (15) shoots the ball during a game against UMass-Lowell on Nov. 14 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 92-55.Credit: Chelsea Spears / Multimedia editorThe last time Ohio State and Marquette faced off on the hardwood, it was “brutal.”At least that’s what OSU coach Thad Matta said Monday of the Buckeyes’ 52-35 win against the Golden Eagles last season.Now a year and two days later, the No. 20 Buckeyes (1-0) are set to take on Marquette (1-0) once again, and a similar offensive output might not get it done for OSU this time around.“We’re gonna have to score a lot more this year if we want to win,” senior guard Shannon Scott said Monday.Matta said he hopes the game will involve more scoring, and said he expects the pace to be faster than last year’s matchup in Milwaukee.“I think this will be an up-and-down, high-octane type game,” he said.If last year’s matchup was a sign of things to come — both teams finished the season with double-digit losses and OSU lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament while the Golden Eagles failed to make it to the postseason — the Buckeyes and Marquette might both have some confidence heading into Tuesday’s matchup.OSU won its first game of the season, 92-55, against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday, while the Golden Eagles topped Tennessee-Martin by 16 points the same day.After not getting a chance to watch tape on UMass-Lowell, Scott said the Buckeyes have a better idea of what to expect from Marquette.“Now we just know for Marquette who the shooters are, who’s gonna be able to drive the ball, who their big men are,” Scott said. “So it’s gonna be different now.”While watching film has helped the Buckeyes identify some keys to the Golden Eagles’ game, some things were already clear before turning on the TV.Among the 11 players listed on Marquette’s roster, just one stands taller than 6-foot-7. But that one player — sophomore center Luke Fischer, who is a transfer from Indiana — won’t be eligible to play until Dec. 14, per NCAA transfer regulations. On the other bench, the Buckeyes had three players who measure at least 6-feet, 8-inches contribute in their season opener.Scott acknowledged that his team has a size advantage, but added the Golden Eagles make up for it by ramping up the defensive pressure.“Height-wise they might be smaller, but they’ve got a lot of pressure defenses that we’re gonna have to be ready for,” he said. “They have a lot of players that can press us and really pressure the ball, so it’s gonna be tough for us.”He added that Marquette is a “great team,” and stressed that the Buckeyes have to be ready for a gritty matchup.“They got a lot of talent, they’re gonna be really physical and play tough against us,” Scott said. “So we know that if we don’t come ready to play, they can beat us.”Matta agreed that defensive pressure will be a focal point for the Golden Eagles, and noted that Marquette forced 19 turnovers in its opener. The Buckeyes turned the ball over just nine times against UMass-Lowell, and their coach added he expects his team to keep playing aggressively against an aggressive defense.“We’re gonna take risks,” he said. “We’re gonna turn the ball over, hopefully not very much.”Matta added that rebounding and communication will play big roles in the game if the Buckeyes want to come away with a win.With just one game to evaluate his new roster — three true freshmen, a redshirt-freshman and a fifth-year senior transfer all made their OSU debuts last Friday — Matta said he wants to see his players figure out exactly how they fit into the team dynamic.“This is definitely a role type of basketball team, and the quicker they come to the realization of who they are and what they need to do, that ties up a lot of our loose ends,” he said.While there are rebounders, shutdown defenders and passers mixed in, the Buckeyes’ season opener revealed a plethora of players who have the ability to score. Five OSU players — led by freshman guard D’Angelo Russell with 16 points — scored in double figures in the game. Sophomore forward Marc Loving and senior forward Sam Thompson both added 14 while redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee had 13 and redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams chipped in with 12 points in just 13 minutes.Scott pitched in with 11 assists as the Buckeyes shot 37-of-60 from the field and connected on nine three-pointers.With an aggressive defensive team up next on the schedule, Williams said the Golden Eagles will be hard-pressed to slow down the plethora of talent on OSU’s offense.“We’ve got so many different weapons that it’s gonna be hard to stop all of us at the same time,” Williams said Monday. “No matter what.”Tipoff is set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Young Ohio State mens basketball team looks to continue winning start

OSU freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) defends against Marquette redshirt-senior guard Matt Carlino (13) in a Nov. 18 game at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 74-63.Credit: Muyao Shen / Lantern photographerTwo games into the season, the No. 20 Ohio State men’s basketball team has seen 10 players take the court.Of those 10 players, exactly half didn’t play a minute of basketball in a Buckeye uniform last season.With its new roster settling in, OSU (2-0) is set to take on Sacred Heart (1-1) on Sunday as the Buckeyes continue to work on a new style of play.Coach Thad Matta’s team has employed a two-three zone defense through the first two games of the year, and early results have been positive as OSU has allowed just 59 points per game. Senior forward Sam Thompson said the new-look defense helps keep players fresh, but less running doesn’t equate to less thinking.“It definitely saves legs (but) I don’t want to say you don’t have to pay attention as much on the defensive end,” Thompson said Friday. “For example, when I’m on the wing … I have to cover an area form the block to the 3-point line basically.”But even though the Buckeyes have been strong on defense overall, Matta said they have to be careful when it comes to staying on task.“If one guy lets down, it really weakens the entire defense,” he said Friday.So far the new-look defense has worked to the tune of opponents shooting just .443 from the field. In comparison the Buckeyes have shot .633 percent from the field, helping them average 83 points per game.Thompson said some credit for OSU’s up-tempo offense can go to the new style of defensive play.“It’s really easy to run out of that zone because we get so many deflections, we force so many bad shots,” Thompson said. “We’re already in good running lanes (too).”Matta attributed the high shooting percentage to preparation in practice and good decisions when on the court.“I think guys are taking shots in a game that they’ve shot a high amount of repetitions of that shot,” he said. “I think we — as crazy as it sounds — we break down every single shot.”As the Buckeyes have had success on the offensive end, their next opponent is coming off a 54-point outing in a 57-54 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Thursday. That same UMass-Lowell team is the squad that OSU beat in its season opener, and the Buckeyes scored 92 points in the process.While Sacred Heart is coming off a loss, OSU is fresh off a 74-63 win against Marquette. The Buckeyes shot better than 70 percent in the second half, and Thompson said that offensive success stems from ball movement and a specific plan.“We’re moving the ball a lot better, we’re playing a lot faster,” he said. “I think we’re playing more to people’s strengths, as opposed to playing to weaknesses.”But despite the early-season success, Matta said there is still room for improvement coming off the win against the Golden Eagles.“It’s more positioning, it’s more thinking, it’s more scouting,” Matta said. “We made some pretty decent adjustments at halftime (against Marquette) and guys did a better job, but we got up 20 … and they scored 12 points in the last four minutes.”Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell agreed that OSU could have performed at a higher level last Tuesday, but added the Buckeyes have turned their focus to a new opponent and put that game in the rearview mirror.“Honestly, I feel like as a team we could’ve played better, (we) kind of let our guard down a little bit,” Russell said. “But we take every game one at a time.”OSU and Sacred Heart are set to tip-off at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Womens hockey Ohio State goalie Kassidy Sauve looks to continue success in

Ohio State then-redshirt sophomore goaltender Kassidy Sauve stares down a rolling puck against St. Cloud State on Feb. 4 at the OSU Ice Rink. Credit: Magee Sprague | Lantern reporterOhio State redshirt junior goalie Kassidy Sauve has had plenty of downs in her hockey career, but this upcoming season looks to be filled with more ups than ever.Sauve is entering into her third season as the goaltender for Ohio State’s women’s hockey team, and while the 14-17-5 record she posted last season might seem like nothing special, her sophomore season quickly became one for the record books, and one with a tale of redemption.Sauve underwent a double hip surgery, causing her to miss half her freshman season and take a medical redshirt during the 2015-16 campaign While the 581 days Sauve missed were never easy, Sauve said that her parents were a major factor in her recovery.“There were a lot of times where I thought that I didn’t even know if I could do this, I didn’t know if I can come back from injuries this severe, but knowing that my parents thought I could do it… They were behind me all the way,” Sauve said.Then-freshman goaltender Kassidy Sauve (32) defends the net during a game against Mercyhurst on Nov. 11 at the OSU Ice Rink. She had 43 saves on Saturday.Credit: Lantern File PhotoIn her first season back from the injury, Sauve posted a .942 save percentage, led the NCAA in saves with 1,135 and brought her career shutout total to 12. The save percentage and save totals are both single-season Ohio State records, while the career shutouts are tied for the all-time school record.“It was easy to come back in a way because I had so much to prove,” Sauve said. “There were a lot of people saying that I wasn’t going to be able to make the comeback and that I wasn’t going to be able to play, and I just wanted to prove to myself and prove to other people that an injury wasn’t going to stop me.”Off the ice, Sauve makes an impact, as well.“[Sauve]’s automatically, without a ‘C’ on her chest, a leader on the team just because of the talent that she brings on the ice, and because of that, people are listening to her,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “When you’re such a standout in your field, like for her being an All-American goalie, you just automatically ooze that into the locker room, people are looking to you, so any time you talk people are listening.”Sauve’s accolades did not go unnoticed, as this offseason she was invited to Team Canada’s summer strength and conditioning camp. She was also named preseason player of the year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.“Going to Calgary, where the Olympic center is for the hockey teams, it’s always a really exciting experience, I get chills every time I walk into that building,” Sauve said.Sauve, who was born in Whitby, Ontario, hopes to be a part of the Olympic program in the near future.While last year was a breakout return for Sauve, and one that made her a second-team All-American, Muzerall said she is looking even better coming into this season.“[Sauve] really was dialed in and disciplined this summer,” Muzerall said. “She has matured a lot as a player, and her mental toughness has improved immensely since the beginning of last year, and as a goalie that goes a long way.”Sauve said she knows she can still improve, and also understands there could be added pressure on her to perform in this upcoming season.“I think pressure is a privilege,” Sauve said. “I really like pressure, those games are the easiest games to win and if this whole season is considered a pressure season, then I am comfortable with it.” read more